What Do Starfish Eat? In Aquariums And In The Sea | Kidadl


What Do Starfish Eat? In Aquariums And In The Sea

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Roughly 2000 species of starfish exist around the world in a variety of colors, making them all the more captivating to look at.

Although they are commonly called starfish, they aren't really fish! Marine biologists are working towards changing their name to sea stars and these species belong to the echinoderms family.

The peculiar-looking star shape of starfish has always been a source of fascination to kids, and you might agree that we have them in many of our childhood memories. Unlike the regular four-edged star, some starfish are also known to have 40 arms or limbs! Its shape has been the main source of appeal to a lot of us. The real reason the sea star is shaped so is to help them cover more seafloor when searching for their food.

These species of sea stars have no scales or gills like regular fish, so how exactly do they swim? Well, their tube-like feet, which are about 15000 in number, allows their body to glide around on the sea sand, and the tiny spots on their limbs allow them to see the light inside the ocean and travel forward. Sea stars use their remarkable feet to mobilize around the sea and catch their prey, such as snails, sponges, clams, sea urchins, and even plants like sea cucumbers. In recent times, many people have also made these sea stars a part of their family by keeping a unique aquarium for them. Find out more about this as you read along!

If you are excited enough about these beautiful sea creatures, then you would definitely enjoy reading about what do carp eat and what do eels eat as well, so go ahead and dive into the world of these enchanting animals!

What do starfish eat in the ocean?

Starfish are as slow as they are beautiful. Therefore, they usually target slow-moving organisms for their food. Starfish are known to feed on small snails, clams, mussels, small shrimps, corals, and other organisms.

Not all starfish have similar eating habits; it varies from species to species. While some are scavengers who feed on the dead, others are predators and have oysters and mollusks that live on the ocean floor as their food. It has been discovered that starfish eat various fish eggs too. Starfish eat both vegetables and animals while in the ocean. They feed on coral reefs, sea cucumbers, algae, seaweed, and seagrass. When it comes to animals, they have a wide range of animals they love to eat, such as barnacles, coral polyps, certain decomposed organic materials, hermit crabs, other starfish, plankton, sand dollars, sea snails, sea urchins, and other slow-moving fish.

The diversity in starfish species based on their color and number of arms is also a fascinating subject to discuss. Sunflower starfish, for instance, look bright as sunflowers and are known to eat sand dollars, sea cucumber, and sea urchins. It is the heaviest of the sea stars and has the highest number of arms. Another animal of these species, called the Egyptian sea star, is an omnivorous starfish that is native to the Indian ocean and is particularly known for the many sharp spikes on its arms and feet. The diet of this starfish is made mostly of slow-moving organisms like snails and sponges. It also likes eating seaweed.

The Pacific blood starfish looks precisely as its name suggests; the bright blood red color shines right through the ocean or an aquarium tank, which is why it is also called a blood star. The diet of the Pacific blood star consists of bacteria, sponges, and planktons. This starfish is notable for its slender and long arms as well and is often found under rocks.

Last but not least, another peculiar type of starfish is the leather starfish! As different as its name, this starfish is a sight for sore eyes with its bright orange, red and brown streaks. The starfish's skin is slimy and smooth, resembling leather. Sea cucumbers, shrimp, corals, and other smaller organisms are the feeding source for this starfish. The leather starfish is native to the Pacific waters of North America.

What do starfish eat in aquariums?

If you are keen on having a starfish as your pet, then do read this section carefully because this animal is not everyone's cup of tea!

These sea stars like a lot of attention and care along with a huge tank with a capacity of at least 100 gallons (378.5 l). Starfish like gliding on the ocean floor so replicating the ocean environment is of utmost significance. Ensure you take an adequate tank to give your starfish ample space to glide. A typical starfish diet in an aquarium would include a good amount of food like mussels and clams. Make sure you rinse these before feeding them to your starfish. Some starfish species even show a liking for food like kale, boiled spinach, and other greens, which you can provide from your kitchen. You could also regularly put pellets, fish flakes, and other usual fish food in its aquarium. To keep your starfish content, try giving it prawns, shrimps, and sponges too.

Do sea stars eat algae?

Yes, a few of the starfish species do eat algae. Just as they feed on other water vegetation, specific types of starfish enjoy algae as part of their diet.

For instance, one of the species of starfish known as the chocolate chip starfish eats algae by excreting its stomach onto it and digesting it. Another starfish that eats algae is brittle stars.

Many cushion starfish underwater.

What do starfish eat in captivity?

Usually, starfish in captivity are intended to be kept as a pet in an aquarium. So if you are planning for a different aquatic animal other than a fish, then the sea star could be a good alternative, although you would have to take extra care of this marine creature.

Some people, however, seem scared to keep them as pets fearing they might harm or eat humans, but that is not the case since starfish are a relatively peaceful species and won't harm you if you give them a splendid starfish diet every day. There are, however, certain predators in the starfish species, who are possibly poisonous, so beware of these.

Starfish in captivity have to be kept in a large-sized tank filled with sand, where food offered to them can range from coral reefs and vegetation to small fish, clams, mollusks, mussels, and fish flakes. All these food items give starfish their essential nutrients to keep them healthy and nourished.

How does a starfish eat?

Have you ever wondered about a starfish's mouth? None of us can actually see a visible mouth on a sea star, so how exactly does a starfish eat?

A large part of their gliding movement is fundamental to how they eat because it helps them search for and grab their food. So let's have a brief glimpse of the principle by which these sea stars travel without any eyes. The sea star has thousands of tube feet specially adapted to stick to things; it helps them hold on to rocks and their potential prey. These tube feet also help the sea stars pull shells apart. The starfish feels around for food using its tube feet. In fact, did you know that on each arm of the starfish, they have eyespots that are sensitive to light which helps them pave paths and glide?

Once they reach their prey, they begin the process needed to eat them using their unique vascular system. We will tell you the very interesting style these creatures use in feeding on their prey. Their mouth and stomach are both on the underside of their body, but here's a surprising fact, starfish have two stomachs for digestion! One is called the cardiac stomach, and the other is the pyloric stomach. The cardiac stomach is one of the coolest parts of these species because sea stars literally extend their stomach out of their mouth to digest their prey!

This process looks quite cloudy from the outside if you are lucky enough to even see it. The cardiac stomach partially digests their food like corals, sponges, snails, or shrimp. The food from partial digestion is absorbed using digestive enzymes, and next comes the role of the pyloric stomach, where the digestion continues and gets completed. The logic behind two stomachs is for the sea star to feed on larger animals.

How many times do you need to feed starfish?

If you live with sea stars and have them as pets, then a pressing question might be, how many times do you need to feed these species of echinoderms?

Typically, food must be given to sea stars every two to three days; this may vary from starfish to starfish, so a more accurate method would be to keep food near your sea stars. If the starfish eats the food immediately, it clearly indicates that the starfish was hungry. Therefore, the feeding schedule of your starfish can be adjusted using this method. It is critical that you feed these creatures in a salt water tank, and not in a freshwater tank as the original habitat of these species is not a freshwater pond. They eat sea creatures and vegetation as their food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do starfish eatthen why not take a look at what do dolphins eat or why do dogs cough.

Written By
Deepthi Reddy

A content writer, travel enthusiast, and mother of two kids (12 and 7), Deepthi Reddy is an MBA graduate who has finally struck the right chord in writing. The joy of learning new things and the art of writing creative articles gave her immense happiness, which helped her write with more perfection. Articles about travel, movies, people, animals and birds, pet care, and parenting are a few of the topics written by her. Traveling, food, learning about new cultures, and movies have always interested her, but now her passion for writing is also added to the list.

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